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How the Ever-Connected Workforce Poses Problems For Your Company

By William Peacock, Esq. on August 29, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ars Technica calls this trend "the workforce that never stops working." With cloud-based everything, and proliferation of smartphones and tablets, workers are always connected to the office, even when on vacation or at home. It allows flexibility in office arrangements, telecommuting, and increased productivity.

It's not all good news, however. Here are three ways in which your company's forward-thinking, always-on tech practices could have negative legal and business consequences.

Electronic Overtime

A trend that began in the last few years, as more companies began providing smartphones and other devices to their employees, the "electronic overtime" lawsuit argues that an employee should be paid overtime for checking her email while off the clock.

She may be right. And it isn't as simple as ignoring the emails. Have you ever received a string of nagging emails or text messages from a jilted lover or worried parent? The phone buzzes or dings constantly. It is nearly impossible to ignore.

If your company hands out smartphones, or allows remote access of network resources, you'll want to reevaluate your policies, and consider disabling remote access or withholding company-provided devices, especially for non-exempt employees.

Data Security

In the old days, your company would have a few hundred desktop computers chained to the tables at the office. Today, your employees may have smartphones, laptops, and tablets, all brought in-and-out of the office, and all connected to your company's network.

It's a minor annoyance when an employee loses one of their devices. It's an even bigger annoyance, or a full-on catastrophe, when that device contains sensitive data or when someone uses that device to access data on your network. Worse yet, what about rogue employees? Ask the NSA about data security and Edward Snowden.

Your company needs to be proactive and needs to implement state-of-the-art data security protocols, such as encryption, remote-wipe, and GPS locating abilities.

Cost Benefit Analysis

It is definitely convenient to be able to reach your employees at all times. But that convenience comes at a cost. Take the cost of the devices, add the risk of electronic overtime lawsuits and data security prophylaxis, and compare that with the extra bit of productivity you get when those employees check their email on the train home.

Is it worth it? If so, have you taken the proper precautions?

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